My Darling Daughter….
Just reading those words made me weep. That deep pain that I had felt just the night before. Tears streaming down my face, as I was remembering the last time I saw her. I was reflecting on the time that she wrote this letter and it was as if God was giving me a moment of time back.
Why was it so hard to read this letter? Because I missed her? Yes, I did and do miss her very much but it wasn’t just that. All of the emotions that felt like they had been locked inside for a long time come flooding out. Feelings of frustration in not understanding her choices in life, feelings of anger for her leaving my sisters and I. I went through feeling guilt within myself for feeling maybe I didn’t do enough? Maybe if I wasn’t frustrated with her, could I have helped her any more? These thoughts that pounded through my mind were now being released through my heart as I was surrendering them all to Jesus.
My head was pounding with pressure, and I just read it over and over. Each time, I could feel layers of pain, frustration, anger, guilt, shame, were being peeled away and released through my heart. I took my pointer finger and just followed her words written on this paper with a pen that was once used to share beautiful words from her soul. I think that day she was sharing more than what she was writing. I could really connect to much of her soul story through her eyes this night. I saw that she did the best she could, and that was even with her choices. She loved fiercely and family meant everything to her.
I don’t know how long I spent reading, weeping, and going down memory lane, but I did it until I felt the charge of my pain fade. My husband came in about mid-way through this process to check on me and to tell me he was headed to bed. I knew I needed to finish what I had started that night, and it wasn’t over. I got up and headed to get a drink from the kitchen, and as I began taking a drink I began to say a prayer. Asking for forgiveness for me and also my mom, for both of us. Realizing that forgiveness was needed to release the guilt I had been carrying for so long. As I walked back to sit in front of the little black filing cabinet that still had the shrink wrap plastic hanging from moving across the states. I felt lighter, like there had been a new pep in my step that was added. I could feel my mom very strongly, reassuring me that everything was going to be ok.
As I sat back down next to the little black filing cabinet, I looked at the next task. I really was dreading this one. It was the paystubs from 22 years of work. I wanted to make it easy on myself and grab the shredder, and it may sound really odd and even crazy, but I knew I needed to hand cut these. First, they had personal information that I did need to cut, and they also held memories. Lots of memories; the good, the bad, the ugly….
I started with the oldest paystub, 7/23/93…. Whooooaaaaa. God was taking me on a joy ride. Holding my hand, reminding me as we go through this adventure not to regret one moment. I was seeing my life story in front of my eyes as I was looking over these dates as I slowly began to cut into them. The very first one I went slow.
I had previously made a decision I would go to nursing school. I wanted to have a sustainable income now that I was married with two kiddos. I thought it would be so rewarding to work in the OB floor in the hospital bringing in these beautiful little angels into the world. At the time I was a waitress at Denny’s, and before you mock it, I will tell you I made a really good income there. I also was full-time, had the cream of the crop for shifts, and I had benefits. Finding another job that I would make that kind of money in Twin Falls Idaho was going to be extremely hard to find, until Costco bought land and began to build. One of my friends who was also a waitress at Denny’s told me about this opportunity to make $7.40 an hour, and after 90 days you go to $8. And at the time minimum wage was still at $3.25 so this was really good. I decided I was going to apply.
I remembered the excitement I felt when I got hired. I couldn’t believe I had made it through the grueling hiring process, including 5 separate interviews! I will never forget the last interview with the warehouse manager. I had already been told that this is where most people get cut off and don’t make it to the final step of being an employee. They were running interviews at the CSI (College of Southern Idaho, not the movie series lol). The day of my interview I picked out my best dress, to be honest, I was running out of good clothes for an interview! I got ready and headed out the door. I remember the weather was so bad, extremely high winds and rain.
As I arrived I was placed in a room with about 25 other people. I was shaking. My palms were sweaty. I really wanted this job. After reading about the Company I was really excited, and somehow I felt it in my belly. I had NEVER once been inside of a Costco, and had never heard of them before. I loved the feeling I got when I read about the CEO Jim Sinegal and I read so many reviews from employees.
My name was finally called to go back for what could be the first chapter to the next story for me, OR could be the handshake and ‘thank you for applying’ talk. As I walked back I began to get extra nervous, more than I was in the other 4 interviews! Je! ‘Take a breath and calm down’ I whispered to myself. I was taken to the room for the interview and she told me that Neils would be in soon. I felt my knees shaking as I sat down. All of the sudden BOOOOOOSHHHHHH….. The lights went out!!! What? Are you serious!? Just then a couple of backup lights came on. It was still hard to see, but I could see enough that it wasn’t pitch black. The power had just shut down from the weather! Oh no.
Neils came in and said that they are directing everyone outside. He told me to follow him so I did. He led me outside and everyone else was piling out of the building. He shook his head and chuckled and said, let’s just do the interview right here outside. Is that ok with you? What was I going to say? No? So we started the interview and remember I told you I wore a dress? Well, I am not a person that wears a lot of dresses, and this particular day I was so annoyed saying to myself ‘Je, WHY did you wear a dress’?! I was literally holding my dress down so that it wouldn’t blow up like it kept trying. My hair was flying all over and going in my face. I couldn’t hold my hair because of my dress and with every question he asked I could barely hear him so I had to keep asking him to repeat himself. Then when I would answer he would say ‘excuse me? I can’t hear you, can you speak up?’
Oh my gosh, to this day, I don’t know if he hired me because he felt sorry for me. Regardless, it changed my life. I won’t be writing today about my journey because it would turn into a book, but what I will say is that for a long period of time I loved my job with all of my being. I was proud to work for such a great Company, and honored to work for a man like Jim Sinegal.
I know this may sound so crazy, but anyone who really knows me knows that I don’t have the GREATEST MEMORY. But this night, it was though my brain was on superpower drive. I remembered details, felt the emotions and sometimes could even smell it as if I was back in that year. It was the most incredible experience as I did this life review.
One by one, the dates and the memories would come flooding in and I got my routine down. Looking at the date, cutting it first then going to my social security number and cutting it into tiny pieces. For the first 10 years they used our social security number until they gave us all employee ID numbers. One by one, and when I got to 1997 I began to take a few at a time and cut. I went through the times of my divorce and moving to all of the buildings I worked at from all across Idaho to Hawaii and back. Each one, remembering the friends (family) I made, the memories I had and the experiences I shared.
I cut that night with tears streaming down my face many times, and a lump in my throught. I kept going even when my scissors got dull and I wore three blisters in my fingers. I had to finish I, I just knew it. My husband woke up at 3am to go to work, and I was up cutting these paystubs. ‘Honey, what are you doing still awake? Can’t that wait until the morning’? He said to me when he saw me still in the same place that he left me when he went to bed. Oh how I must look so crazy! I couldn’t explain it, and told him that I didn’t expect him to understand because I didn’t fully understand, I just knew I needed to do it.
I finished getting though memories of 22 years, which is 8,030 days, or 192,720 hours, or 11,563,200 minutes of memories. When I put it like that I can understand how we have emotion wrapped up in it. Shortly after my husband woke I had finished cutting the last paystub. I laid down on my bed and slept for 5 hours straight until my son woke. I woke up expecting to feel tired, it was quite the opposite! I felt light, I felt awake, I felt like an elephant had been lifted off of my shoulders.
So crazy to know that we can carry so much weight, so many burdens in things we don’t heal from. Sometimes we need forgiveness, sometimes we need to let go, but all of the time we need grace. Grace is what bridges the gap between our expectations and reality. I finished the next day with cutting the rest of the stuff that was no longer needed. This included old paperwork and contracts from property, cars, boats and possessions that I no longer had. I cut them one by one, and had two 38 gallon black bags filled to the rim when I was finished. I can’t believe I had that much shoved in that poor little black cabinet.
The biggest lesson for me through this was GRACE:
*Grace for myself for never wanting to go through this cabinet.
*Grace for others in my life who had hurt me, that the dates triggered the memories.
*Grace for myself for the emotions that were never dealt with.
*Grace for others who didn’t follow through on their promises.
I was finally ready to close the door on these old stories, lock the door and throw the key away. I know I will never have a desire to look at any of that stuff apart from my mom’s letter to me, and for that I feel blessed.
Don’t ever feel that your healing needs to look a certain way. This is your journey, and only you and God know how you feel. Honor that.
One final thing. Remember, all ‘things’ hold memories and energy. If there is something in your life that is clouding you or holds negative memories, I encourage you to get rid of it. If it’s something that you don’t or can’t get rid of, then put it away so you won’t see it until you are healed. Thank you for following this soul story to the end.